Secret jewels of Bominaco: the Church of Santa Maria Assunta

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Bominaco is a small village in the province of L’Aquila, and you can easily reach it driving on Highway 17, and following the road signs that after San Pio delle Camere show you where to turn right and climb the mountain. This church is part of a former monastery which used to be very large and mighty, much more than you would assume by seeing the remnants now.

I quote: “… the Benedictine center of Momenaco, already existing in the 10th century. Founded according to tradition in 1001 by Odorisius, son of Bernardo di Valva, this abbey is one of the masterpieces of Abruzzi Romanesque architecture.”

There are a few beautiful things to visit (explained here) and the view is wonderfulTo me it has a special meaning. It is such a forgotten place that in the late years Seventies we heard about it from a Polish friend living in Rome, who read about it in the Vatican newspaper, L’Osservatore Romano, saved the article and at the next visit to us in Abruzzo we went together to see it.

My father, who knew a bit all the surrounding villages never heard of it. But once arrived, he informed around and found the house of the old lady keeping the keys of the Church, and so we could visit it (my father had a way in talking to people and wherever we went in the province, he would always find someone he knew, or at least one of their relatives).

It is peculiar how many places that in old times had a prominent location, like Bominaco,who was an important point on the route between the Adriatic Sea and Rome, are almost forgotten nowadays. That’s why I feel it is important to visit them and write about them, even if my pictures are not that great.

Later on the place became more known, and a system of volunteers was set up to act as guides. Some of my friends married in the church, the they we arrived there was a funeral of someone of the village and I am glad we managed to go in July with my friends and the kids, who were more interested in playing in the pine-wood and rollling on the grass down the hill than in the frescoe’s.

As you may see from the pictures part of the building materials were taken from the neighboring pre-Roman city of Peltuinum whose remains are not too far from here to visit. This reclicling has been going on for centuries.

If you are interested in visiting the church or booking it for private religious functions, see the board with names and telephone numbers among the pictures. It is absolutely worth the detour, and in a next post I will show you the even more impressive frescoes’ of the contiguous Oratory of St. Pellegrino.

What I did not manage to photograph for lack of time and light (we sneaked in after the funeral, while they were closing) are the pillar used to hold the Easter candle next to the Altar, which is very impressive, the three apses and more sculpted stone details.

After visiting do not forget to leave a contribution with the guide for their time and to help with the maintenance costs.

I am leaving you with a video to get a better idea:


The “Rural Living Room” project

da rocca Calascio

I totally agree with the view that the major shortcoming of all reconstruction projects  after the Earthquake of L’Aquila is that they are too directed to physical aspects rather than to the social, environmental and sustainable redevelopment of the area. It is people we are talking about, not just buildings.

I welcome therefore the announcement of this project:

“Social fragmentation and inequalities between the city and the countryside, now amplified by the negative effects of the earthquake, impose to find new shared places where building a community vision that would link the physical reconstruction to long-term strategies for a sustainable socio-economic re-development of the territory.

Our action is inspired by beauty, slowness, environmental and social sustainability.”

Community vision has always been the main feature of centuries of pasture and “open fields” management in this area. Due to the sparse resources, the only way to survive (and thrive) has been a common effort with all human development and family life revolving around it.

Picture: Church seen from Rocca Calascio, credits Tonio Di Carlo

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